St Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow (1865-1925)
Born Vasily Ivanovich Belavin in the Pskov region of Russia in 1865, St Tikhon from his youth displayed fervour for the Orthodox Faith. He entered the Pskov seminary at the age of thirteen, and went on to graduate from the St Petersburg Theological Academy at the age of 23. He took monastic vows at the age of 26, taking the name of Tikhon in honour of St Tikhon of Zadonsk. Made an Archimandrite in 1892, he became Bishop of Lublin in 1897. The next year, he was made Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska, a diocese later renamed “Of the Aleutians and North America”.
In the nine years he spent in America, he did much to spread Orthodoxy there. He built churches and cathedrals and helped to give the church there a structure, in spite of the ethnic diversity of the diocese (later made an archdiocese). He had Saint Raphael of Brooklyn as an assistant bishop. The next ten years from 1907 were spent ministering to dioceses in Yaroslavl and Lublin with love and wisdom. In 1917, that chaotic year in the history of Russia, Bishop Tikhon was made Bishop of Moscow, Metropolitan of Moscow, and later Patriarch of Moscow. His election as Patriarch of Moscow, the first for almost three hundred years, came though the drawing of lots. Later that year, the October Revolution catapulted the Communists to power and Russia into civil war.
Through the guidance of Patriarch Tikhon, the Church stayed strong and neutral in the conflicts and supported those starving in the famines. However in 1922, the Communist Party decided to confiscate valuables, and their first targets were church ornaments. By resisting this, Patriarch Tikhon was imprisoned for fifteen months. When he came out he stayed firm in his faith. In 1924, his health started to decay and he reposed on April 7 1925. Patriarch Tikhon was made a saint in 1989. For many years, his remains were thought missing due to the Communists, but in 1992 they were found concealed in the Donskoy Monastery in Moscow.
Source: Lychnos April 2018 / May 2018